So, after having over 1 million viewers tune in for the UEFA Champions League Final last month, how is ESPN doing with the early broadcasts for Euro 2008? The answer is not as well as the final, but fairly decent overall. According to the Associated Press, these were the numbers for each game broadcast over the first three days:
Saturday (ESPN Classic)
Switzerland v Czech Republic- 169,000
Portugal v Turkey- 291,000
Austria v Croatia- 445,000
Germany v Poland- 683,000
France v Romania- 393,000
Netherlands v Italy- 553,000
Note that these numbers are just for the English language broadcast, and doesn’t include the ESPN Deportes Spanish language broadcast. Do the math, and it comes out to an average of 422,000 viewers per match. While ratings are dependent on households tuned in and not total viewers, that would suggest an average rating of .3 so far. While expected due to being available in more households, all four matches on ESPN2 did better than the two shown on ESPN Classic. The four games shown on ESPN2 had an average audience of over a half-million.
For ESPN, these numbers are ok, given these are group stage matches and not the more dramatic all-or-nothing knockout rounds. The best news of the bunch maybe the over 500,000 for Netherlands v Italy, given that was squarely in the middle of the American workday. Now ESPN will be looking for these numbers to build as the tournament goes on, especially with the final airing on broadcast network ABC. In reality, while good numbers early are nice to have, it will be the numbers at the end that will determine how much of a success ESPN’s Euro 2008 broadcast will be.